Medically reviewed on Oct 20, 2023 by Neka Miller, PhD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Looking into early signs and symptoms associated with HIV can feel overwhelming, particularly if you’re worried you’ve contracted it. Early signs of HIV typically overlap between genders: they’re similar to the flu, though they can encompass a broad variety of early HIV symptoms in men and women. 
That said, down the line, undiagnosed or untreated HIV can result in reproductive health consequences that impact the sexes differently. Signs of HIV in women frequently include menstrual cycle dysregulation and certain types of vaginal infections.  On the other hand, up to 20% of male cases of HIV result in a hormonal disorder known as hypogonadism. 
If you’re concerned you may have HIV or any symptom associated with it, the good news is that early detection is the best way to reduce your risk of reproductive and other health complications later. In fact, understanding HIV transmission and the various ways HIV can manifest is a fundamental step in diagnosing and treating HIV properly.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually transmitted virus that spreads through exposure to certain body fluids—like genital secretions or blood.  HIV transmission can also occur from a mother to a child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. 
HIV attacks and impairs the body’s immune cells, which weakens the immune system and can eventually progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if it isn’t treated.  AIDS can be a life-threatening condition, particularly if HIV treatment is not initiated promptly, which is why HIV testing is crucial for protecting your health. 
HIV infection passes through an earlier stage before the development of AIDS: acute HIV, the period right after the infection begins. If untreated, the infection progresses to chronic HIV (which may or may not have noticeable symptoms) and ultimately AIDS. 
How long does it take to show symptoms of HIV? Some people experience flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches or joint pain, at the start of an HIV infection. These early HIV symptoms usually develop within 2 to 4 weeks in an infected person and may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  This early stage of the viral infection is known as an acute HIV infection. 
Common symptoms that may manifest during this time if you contract HIV include :
It’s worth keeping in mind that the most common symptoms associated with the early stage of HIV can also be caused by other health conditions—not just HIV.
In other words, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have HIV. STI testing and consulting with your healthcare provider can be helpful next steps to take to rule out HIV as the cause of your symptoms.
Symptoms of HIV can vary widely from person to person, regardless of the affected person’s gender. HIV progresses through several stages in the course of its manifestation :
At the early or acute stage of infection, HIV usually presents similarly in both sexes with flu-like symptoms.  However, people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth who are HIV-positive may notice distinct reproductive signs and symptoms in the course of living with the illness.
Symptoms of HIV in women can manifest in several prevalent reproductive health conditions. The most common ones include :
n addition to these reproductive concerns, women with HIV have a higher risk of developing several other reproductive health conditions. These include :
If you have HIV as an older woman, you may also notice earlier-onset menopause or more severe menopausal symptoms. You may also be at higher risk of developing osteoporosis (bone density loss). 
The main reproductive concern for men carrying HIV is secondary hypogonadism.10
Hypogonadism is a hormonal condition where the body can’t produce sufficient testosterone on its own. Secondary hypogonadism can be one of the symptoms of HIV in men if undiagnosed, though it’s also possible to develop it from a number of other health conditions. 
It’s currently estimated that around 20% of men diagnosed with HIV have hypogonadism.  It can present with a broad range of symptoms; these tend to vary depending on your age.
If you’re an adult male living with hypogonadism, you may notice :
Hypogonadism may also result in osteoporosis, which is estimated to impact as many as 30% of people with hypogonadism caused by HIV.  Healthcare providers will typically treat this hormonal disorder with hormonal therapy. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who engage in unprotected sex, have multiple sexual partners, or use intravenous drugs are at an increased risk of contracting the HIV virus.
In addition, individuals who have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), have a history of STIs, or are sexually active with someone who is HIV-positive are also at risk. It's important to get tested for HIV if you are at risk or think you may have been exposed.
If you have had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner, it’s important to get tested. You can do this from the comfort and privacy of home with the Everlywell HIV Test.
It’s a good idea to be aware of AIDS symptoms, as well, which can include:
HIV treatment has come a long way in recent years, allowing those with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the most common treatment for HIV and involves taking HIV medication daily to suppress the virus and prevent it from progressing.
It's important to start HIV medication and treatment as soon as possible after an HIV diagnosis. According to the CDC, early treatment can help people with HIV live nearly as long as those who do not have the virus.
While HIV is a lifelong condition, the acute stage of HIV infection is the most responsive to treatment. By understanding early signs of HIV in men and women, you can take proactive HIV prevention measures and get tested.
Fortunately, you can test for HIV discreetly and in the privacy of your own home with our At-Home HIV Test Kit. Only a small sample of blood is required (collected via a simple finger prick), and your results are easy to view on our secure, online platform.
If you do test positive for HIV, be sure to mention this as soon as possible to your healthcare provider and learn from them what HIV medicine and/or HIV prevention treatments they may recommend.